LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. - Bears are becoming a potential hazard as they search through flood debris in Colorado, looking for an easy meal.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say they saw the problem in Jamestown right after the floods and now residents in west Loveland are reporting bears digging through debris there.
Jennifer Churchill with CPAW said the flood debris provides plenty of food for black bears and the trail of rotten food is easy for bears to follow.
"That's why I don't let my dog out," said Mark Lundquist, who lives at the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon on U.S. 34, west of Loveland.
Lundquist captured home video Monday morning of a mama bear and her two cubs. In the video, one of the bears lifts its head as they rummage through flood debris.
"There's...wreckage and debris from the storms," said Lundquist. "That's definitely what they’re after. They're looking for whatever they can eat."
Lundquist said his German shepherd, Greta, ran out of the house agitated with her nose in the air on Monday morning.
“I was standing in my house and I saw about a 75-pound juvenile black bear," he said.
"The bears know there's food around in those areas," said Churchill. "So they certainly will come looking around, especially as things start to rot and get a little smelly."
Churchill said bears are extremely active right now as they pack on pounds for hibernation, which typically begins in mid-November.
"They are in hyperphagia, where they are packing on 20,000 calories a day," Churchill said. "They really need to eat a lot. So, they're not going to hang around very long. They'll eat what's there, and then they'll move on."
Said Lundquist, "Potentially, I hope she's heading up to the Devil's Backbone where she hopefully has a den. If she’s still around at the end of November, it could be a not so happy ending for her."
Churchill advised people to be aware of potential bear activity in flooded areas.
"You may run into these animals if you're going back into the flood zones to clean your home. So keep that in mind," she said.
Churchill said bears are tagged if they become a problem and if they have another incident after being tagged they are euthanized.
"Most of the time they move on without any issues," Churchill said. "They can be chased off pretty easily."